Theresa Lowe knows she can’t hear every story of homelessness in Gainesville, but she hears as many as she can.
Lowe, director for the North Central Florida Alliance, and other census volunteers surveyed the homeless this week in Alachua County.
“[The survey] asks some basic demographic questions,” she said. “It ends with unmet needs, so what do you need today that you can’t access? And then we use that to help us figure out services we might want to look at providing.”
The volunteers started at Grace Marketplace on Northeast 28th Avenue and spread out across Dignity Village, downtown Gainesville and Main Street.
Jackie Skelly and her husband were sleeping behind a church downtown.
“I’m 64 years old, and he’s 65 … and all we want is a place to live,” Skelly said. “I’m tired of this life. It’s getting too much.”
Volunteer Gail Drummer surveyed others at St. Francis House on South Main Street.
“I am a veteran myself,” she said. “I’ve never been homeless — thank you, Lord. However I love, love, love working with the general public and working with people because there’s different reasons why people become homeless, and everyone has a story.”
The survey aims to get a sense of homelessness in the county. The census considers how many people are elderly or disabled and if those numbers are increasing or decreasing. It “really kind of paints the picture of what homelessness looks like,” Drummer said.
In the past, volunteers input all data by hand, but now they use Survey Monkey, which creates and publishes all the results online.
The result should be posted by the end of today.